Journalism. What is it really?
A stupid question, one might say, but in today’s world where everyone with an iPhone proclaims themselves as the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, it’s fair to present you with this question.
For years, friends and family have asked me why I have decided to pursue a career that most people call a “dying profession.”
A profession where legendary newspapers are falling into bankruptcy, blogging has made everyone a columnist it seems, and finding a job out of college is harder than trying to sell your house in this economy, I understand the dissent against my passion.
But once and for all, it is time for the denouncers and the doubters to understand the man behind the madness, and give you all some perspective into the wonderful world of sports journalism I have decided to pursue.
And so I begin.
I have never feared the unknown.
While most people stray away from the road less traveled, I have always embraced what lies ahead of me, even if it means traveling off the beaten path.
When most kids were molding their athletic skills in their respective sports, I was molding my curiosity for the game of life.
It is that same curiosity that led me to my true love of sports journalism.
My father took me to my first Ohio State University football game when I was nine. When I walked into Ohio Stadium for the first time, it was that moment that forever cemented my future as a sports journalist.
The sights and sounds of 100,000 people coming together in one place for the same purpose amazed me. For the entire game all I could think about was this idea that even though I was a just a small fish in a humongous pond, I felt like king inside of this palace.
From that moment on, I understood the power of sports and the need for journalists to tell the very stories that make sports such a influential entity.
As sports journalists, we have the power to change the world. One day I will be covering the underdog team that has miraculously reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, the next day I will be at a small town in Texas discovering the incredible rags-to-riches story of the latest Heisman Trophy winner. One year I will investigate the corruption of the NCAA (which isn’t much of an investigation) and the next year I will be tracing the history of minorities in college sports.
Sports journalism has no boundaries and no limits, because like all journalists, we are the watchdogs of society. We ask the tough questions and travel to the roughest areas because it is our job to give a voice to those who can’t speak. We humanize sports because without the people, there would be no sports.
Sports journalism currently sits at a crossroads. Between the failing newspaper industry and the lack of young readership, it seems like I’m falling in a trap.
I wake up every morning optimistic that my newspaper and Starbucks will still be waiting for me (I’m an old man in that sense), but I know that day is sadly coming to an end.
It is likely that my children won’t grasp the historical significance newspapers have had on this country. It’s a damn shame. But I hold the belief that when my children wake up every morning, there will still be sports writers like Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy to tell us the tales and triumphs of our beloved Boston sports teams.
I will never make a million dollars and I will never be on the cover of Time Magazine. I’m content with that. I don’t need a big paycheck and worldwide fame to know that I can make a difference with the power of the pen. All I need is a pad of paper and a small desk with some coffee stains, and I vow to always swing for the fences like it’s the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
The path I have chosen to walk is steep and winding, but I embrace the challenge that lies ahead. I am not afraid of the puzzle staring me in the face, because the future of sports journalism is brighter than ever before. There are so many great young sports writers who care about the integrity of our profession that no matter what platforms exist in the future, we will continue to foster the great tradition of sports journalism.
Now I hope you all have at least a clearer picture of why I choose sports journalism every time, but you probably still think I’m crazy. But you have to be crazy if you want to be successful in this business.